Images of Nepal -BY Krishna Deva

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An iconographical survey in the Nepal Valley was carried out jointly by the
Department of Archaeology and Culture of His Majesty’s Government, Nepal, and the Archaeological Survey of India under the direction of the author during the months ofMay-June, 1963. The icons in the temples and the monasteries as well as the stray images in the Kathmandu Valley were studied with adequate photographic documentation.Nepal has an immensely rich variety of image types both of the Brahmanical and Buddhist religions. The earliest images available in Nepal are mainly Brahmanical and few images of Buddhist affiliation have been found prior to the seventh century. The Valley has yielded fine images of numerous Vaishṇava and Saiva deities and of Sūrya and Brahmā and various forms of Devis, including Pārvati and the Seven Mothers made between the fifth and tenth centuries. The Vaishnava deities include Vishnu as Śrīdhara,
Garuda-Nārāyaṇa, Seshaśāyi and Viśvarūpa and the Vaishnava incarnations of BhūVarāha, Narasimha, Trivikrama and Krishna as Kāliya damana. The Trivikrama images
which incidentally constitute the earliest dated sculptures of Nepal are informed by elemental power and dynamism, characteristic of the early Chalukyan art of India. The sculpture of Vishņu as Visvarūpa is a unique piece, strongly reminiscent of the famous seven-headed Siva from Parel (Bombay) in conception and exp Nepal has also yielded numerous Siva-lingas of the symbolic as well as the iconic types, the latter comprising
largely chaturmukha-lingas, besides figures of Gaņeśa and Kumāra and excellent seated images of Śiva-Pārvati enjoying domestic bliss in Kailāśa often combining the Gangādhara aspect, which have an unmistakable Rāshțrakūta flavour.Like the Brahmanical images, the earlier Buddhist images too, are seen to have striking affinities with the Indian images in theme as well as in treatment and comprise simple but elegantly modelled figures of Buddha, Lokeśvara, Tārā, and Māyā Devi. The artists of Nepal drew ample inspiration from the various Gupta and post-Gupta art-styles of India but transformed their art creations with the magic touch of their individual genius.
From the tenth century onwards, the art-idioms and conventions of Nepal increasingly assert themselves, showing dominance of local features and physiognomy and Nepal is seen to develop her own style of sculpture marked by a peculiar innate grace and daintiness.

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